Defense grows up fast for No. 22 West Virginia

West Virginia opponents have gained 382.3 yards per game, which ranks 58th nationally. Opponents last season gained 455 yards a game, which ranked 103rd.

WVU opponents are averaging 27.1 points, which ranks No. 70 nationally. Opponents last season averaged 33.3 points a game, which was tied for 100th.

That's quite a difference. And it includes playing three opponents who at the time were ranked in the top four of the Top 25.

The No. 22 Mountaineers, who were 4-8 overall and 2-7 in the Big 12 last season, already have exceeded those victory totals. An improved offense is one reason, but WVU always is expected to score.

To many, the defense is the surprise.

via Defense grows up fast for No. 22 West Virginia | TribLIVE.

Charleston Daily Mail | WVU FOOTBALL: Mountaineers, Cowboy favor deep passes

Though it might seem like a trick play given the way college offenses have evolved in this era, what Oklahoma State and West Virginia will do Saturday at Boone Pickens Stadium is very much their definition of normal.

In today’s college football with quick releases, short throws and high-percentage plays that keep the ball moving forward, with coordinators who create space for athletes who are hard to tackle after catching easy passes, few other teams gamble or rely as much on the deep pass.

“There’s been a little more of a focus on throwing to inside receivers and the short game and stuff like that to where not a lot of people are out there throwing it over the top,” Mountaineers offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson said, “but it’s something we do a lot.”

The 3:30 p.m. game on ESPN will feature the Big 12’s most prolific and most persistent deep play quarterbacks. WVU’s Clint Trickett leads the Big 12 with 8.74 yards per attempt and 28 pass plays covering at least 25 yards. Oklahoma State’s Daxx Garman is second in the Big 12 with 14.64 yards per completion and ranks third with 19 25-yard passes.

via Charleston Daily Mail | WVU FOOTBALL: Mountaineers, Cowboy favor deep passes.

The Charleston Gazette | Mountaineers want to continue QB pressure

A week ago against Baylor, West Virginia’s defense managed something few others have in recent years — they pressured the quarterback and in doing so disrupted the Bears’ offensive flow.

If the Mountaineers can do that against Baylor, they should be able to do it against just about anyone. And doing it this week would seem imperative.

“We have to make sure that we pressure the quarterback and get a lot of people around him to affect the throw,’’ defensive coordinator Tony Gibson said. “We need to disrupt the timing of the offense. That’s where we were effective last Saturday. I would expect the same kind of play this week.’’

The No. 22 Mountaineers (5-2, 3-1 Big 12) face Oklahoma State (5-2, 3-1) Saturday at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater. Protecting the quarterback has been an issue for the Cowboys.

In fact, everything that has anything to do with the offensive line has been an issue for OSU, and West Virginia knows it. Not only does Oklahoma State have three new starters on the line this season, all three are sophomores who are backed up by freshmen.

Oh, and they have a new line coach, too, having lost Joe Wickline to Texas.

via The Charleston Gazette | Mountaineers want to continue QB pressure.

The Charleston Gazette | Mountaineer Gameday, Dave Hickman column: Oklahoma State offense is sputtering

Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy will be the first to admit that Daxx Garman has been placed into an unenviable position.

It’s one thing to finally get a chance to play quarterback, an opportunity for which Garman has been waiting for what seems like an eternity.

It’s quite another to be thrust into the job without much warning and then be surrounded by an offense that just can’t seem to get out of its own way.

That’s the predicament into which Garman was thrown after Oklahoma State starter J.W. Walsh injured a foot in the second game of the season. Walsh was originally thought to be out six to eight weeks, but Gundy said this week that he doesn’t expect Walsh to return at all in 2014.

That means it will continue to be Garman’s job, including Saturday’s game with West Virginia.

via The Charleston Gazette | Mountaineer Gameday, Dave Hickman column: Oklahoma State offense is sputtering.

WVUsportsBuzz Presented by U.S. Cellular – WVU Athletics

Host Amanda Mazey is on location at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium during this week's edition of the WVUsportsBuzz, presented by U.S. Cellular.

Long distance swimmer Emma Skelley and middle blocker Evyn McCoy are featured as the swimming and volleyball teams are at home this weekend.

via WVUsportsBuzz Presented by U.S. Cellular – WVU Athletics.

No. 8 Women’s Soccer Set for Key Home Matches – WVU Athletics

The No. 8-ranked West Virginia University women’s soccer team opens its season-ending homestand at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium this weekend with two key Big 12 Conference matches.

The Mountaineers (11-2-2, 4-0-1) play host to Oklahoma State (9-7-1, 4-1-1) on Friday, Oct. 24, at 7 p.m. The squad will then kick against Oklahoma (8-5-3, 2-2-1) on Sunday, Oct. 26, at 1 p.m. Sunday’s match will be broadcast on ROOT SPORTS Pittsburgh, with Geoff Coyle on the call and former Mountaineer Caroline Szwed adding color.

The first 100 Mountaineer Maniacs through the gates Friday night will receive a special Maniac Pom-Pom to help cheer on the Mountaineers. Tickets for the general public are $5 for adults and just $3 for youth and seniors. Groups of 10 or more can purchase tickets for $2 each.

via No. 8 Women's Soccer Set for Key Home Matches – WVU Athletics.

WV MetroNews – Finished for the year, Crest will seek medical redshirt

William Crest’s shoulder, “jacked up” since his lone appearance against Towson, will sideline the freshman for the rest of the season, West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen announced Thursday night.

“He’s going to take his redshirt,” Holgorsen told listeners to his weekly call-in show.

Crest played the final 23 offensive snaps during West Virginia’s 54-0 romp over Towson on Sept. 6. He completed 3-of-4 passes for 7 yards and carried five times for 27 more, including a bullish 4-yard touchdown run.

Just when it appeared West Virginia coaches might utilize Crest in short-yardage packages to justify burning a redshirt, his sore shoulder flared up. He spent the past three games in warmups on the sideline.

via WV MetroNews – Finished for the year, Crest will seek medical redshirt.

West Virginia’s Riddick looking to build on Baylor performance

Shaquille Riddick was acting like he had done it before, which he had not.

“It was the same kind of stuff I did at Gardner-Webb before I came here, so it's not like I'm not used to making those kind of plays,” the West Virginia defensive end said of his three-sack performance on Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty on Saturday.

Riddick was correct, to a point. Before transferring last spring, the senior had a stellar career for Gardner-Webb, an FCS school with a 9,000-seat stadium in Boiling Springs, N.C.

But he never had three sacks in a game until WVU dismantled the previously unbeaten and fourth-ranked Bears, 41-27. The setting was a little different for Riddick, too. His work was seen by more than 60,000 at Milan Puskar Stadium and a widespread TV audience.

via West Virginia's Riddick looking to build on Baylor performance | TribLIVE.

Charleston Daily Mail | WVU FOOTBALL: Banged up Mountaineers reach into depth chart

The time has come for West Virginia’s football team when it won’t be practicing the day after a game. The Mountaineers need that break so they can recuperate quicker, if only from the minor things that accumulate during the season.

WVU also figures to keep dipping into the depth chart to replace players and replenish parts of the team that need some help. Two weeks ago, WVU played nose guard Darrien Howard even though he was on track to redshirt. The defensive line was without the starting defensive end and a backup nose guard against Texas Tech.

Last week, nose guard Christian Brown returned from a one-game suspension and defensive end Dontrill Hyman played after missing two games with a knee injury. WVU still needed cornerback Nana Kyeremeh to play some snaps in his second game of the season.

Cornerbacks Terrell Chestnut (concussion) and Daryl Worley (rib) were knocked out of the win against Baylor. Starting running back Rushel Shell (foot) didn’t make it out of the first quarter but was ably replaced by Wendell Smallwood, Andrew Buie and Dreamius Smith.

“It was a very physical game, one of the more physical games that I’ve seen since I’ve been here,” coach Dana Holgorsen said. “We had a lot of guys banged up and beat up, but that’s part of going into the eighth game.”

via Charleston Daily Mail | WVU FOOTBALL: Banged up Mountaineers reach into depth chart.

Charleston Daily Mail | Mike Casazza: Clay proves his worth for Mountaineers

More and more it seems that West Virginia turns to Cody Clay when the opposition knows what’s coming. And more it more things turn out all right for the Mountaineers, even when it’s not necessarily what they had in mind.

Take the scene at Texas Tech two weeks ago.

“They knew all our checks and they knew I couldn’t go to the line and check anything,” quarterback Clint Trickett said. “I was going to have to stand back there and do it with my words.”

Trickett stared at the Red Raiders defense, saw something he didn’t like and then checked into a new call using words instead of signals the defense would recognize.

“Dude,” said Cody Clay, who was standing next to his quarterback in the shotgun, “do you realize what you called?”

Trickett realize he’d made a mistake, but he knew the play clock was ticking toward zero. He quickly answered Clay.

“You’re going to have to run this one, bud,” he said.

The first career carry for the junior from Alum Creek gained 5 yards.

“I’m not going to lie,” Trickett said. “I was laughing the whole time.”

via Charleston Daily Mail | Mike Casazza: Clay proves his worth for Mountaineers.

The Charleston Gazette | Dillon personifies Mountaineers’ defensive alteration

In case anyone hadn’t noticed, K.J. Dillon has taken on a dramatically different role in West Virginia’s defense the past two games.

Normally a disruptive safety who seems far more likely to rush the passer or play contain than to drop back in coverage, Dillon did far more of the latter against both Texas Tech and Baylor. He’s likely to do just as much Saturday when West Virginia (5-2, 3-1 Big 12) faces Oklahoma State (5-2, 3-1) in Stillwater.

Why the change? Well, quite simply, the Mountaineers have become far more aggressive in trying to rush the passer of late. While sometimes that means bringing safeties, just as often it means leaving one or more in single coverage with receivers.

And Dillon has been left alone back there a lot.

“It’s been tough, you know,’’ Dillon said. “But that’s what they pay me to do, I guess. That’s what my scholarship’s for.’’

Actually, during Dillon’s first two years it appeared as if his scholarship wasn’t necessarily for playing pass defense. As a general rule he lined up on or near the line of scrimmage and was just as much a run stopper as a pass defender.

Not that he couldn’t always do both.

via The Charleston Gazette | Dillon personifies Mountaineers’ defensive alteration.

The Charleston Gazette | Dave Hickman: Credit coaches for WVU’s defensive gains

For all of Clint Trickett’s passing yards and Kevin White’s highlight-reel catches and the productive running game that complements them, it’s not the West Virginia offense that has meant the most in turning the Mountaineers around this season.

It’s what’s happened on defense that matters.

That should go without saying, but often it’s overlooked. That’s especially true in the Big 12, where defensive excellence is gauged far differently than some other places in the country.

In the Big Ten or even the SEC, holding an opponent to 20 or so points is often necessary because sometimes offenses are hard-pressed to score many more than that. In the Big 12, pretty much anyone is capable of throwing 40 or 50 on the board as a matter of routine, so what it takes defensively to claim an advantage is a bit different.

Two years ago, West Virginia had Geno Smith, Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey and piled up both the yards and the points. But the defense couldn’t stop anyone and so scores were 70-63, 48-45, 50-49, 39-38 and the like and the Mountaineers were often on the short end while going 7-6. Even last year, with a rebuilding offense, WVU scored 44, 42 and 40 points and lost all three games while allowing 52, 47 and 73.

Yes, offense is important. But it’s useless if your defense makes the opponent’s offense even better.

via The Charleston Gazette | Dave Hickman: Credit coaches for WVU’s defensive gains.

Oklahoma State Preview – WVU Athletics

Oklahoma State (5-2, 3-1) managed just 12 first downs and 258 yards of offense against the Horned Frogs, including 132 through the air. Junior quarterback Daxx Garman had a tough time throwing the football, completing just 10 of his 25 attempts with two interceptions, and Gundy believes that is a manifestation of not controlling the line of scrimmage by running the ball more effectively.

“We have to run the ball better,” said Gundy. “We actually blocked better in the run game (but) we need to protect Garman better. There were a couple of throws he made that I wasn’t fired up about. I’m not trying to defend anyone, but if we don’t run the ball better than we did Saturday and protect then it’s hard for him to operate.”

In Garman’s last two games against Kansas and TCU he is completing less than 50 percent of his pass attempts (27 of 56) for 293 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions. He’s been sacked six times in those two games.

via Oklahoma State Preview – WVU Athletics.

Volleyball Downs Baylor for Road Win – WVU Athletics

For the second time this season, the West Virginia University volleyball team found Big 12 success on the road, taking a 3-1 win from Baylor on Wednesday evening at the Ferrell Center. The Mountaineers (13-8, 3-4) took the match in set scores of 25-20, 25-21, 22-25 and 25-19.

“I’m very proud of our team for communicating so well tonight, for giving a great effort and fighting for each other,” said WVU coach Jill Kramer. “This team is capable of doing really great things. It was obvious in their play tonight that they all believe that wholeheartedly.”

via Volleyball Downs Baylor for Road Win – WVU Athletics.

Bevin Scores Twice in Win at No. 12 Penn State – WVU Athletics

Senior Andy Bevin netted two goals in a come-from-behind 2-1 victory over No. 12 Penn State on Wednesday evening at Jeffrey Field.

West Virginia improved to 7-6-1 overall and is now 3-1-1 in its last five meetings against the Nittany Lions, including 2-0-1 at Penn State. The loss is the third straight for Penn State, who drops to 10-3-1 after beginning the season 10-0-1.

“The resiliency was tremendous tonight. Our guys really came together as a group this evening,” coach Marlon LeBlanc said. “We needed our entire squad this evening and we got a collective effort. I’m proud of these guys to come from behind on the road and beat a top-15 team.”

via Bevin Scores Twice in Win at No. 12 Penn State – WVU Athletics.

WVU and Virginia Tech Announce Agreement – WVU Athletics

“Rivalries are a special part of college athletics,” Virginia Tech Athletics Director Whit Babcock said. “They are enhanced based on frequency of playing each other. We certainly have some great rivalries within our conference, but this has been, and will continue to be, a special one for us outside of the ACC. This unique scheduling arrangement will be exciting for our fans and student-athletes in all of our sports over the next several years.”

In 1997, the two schools began competing for the Black Diamond Trophy, which went to the winner of the football game between the two schools. The Black Diamond Trophy will remain a part of the football series and will be on the line when the two schools meet on the field in 2017.

Here is a look at the series in each of the two schools’ common varsity sports (in alphabetical order):

via WVU and Virginia Tech Announce Agreement – WVU Athletics.

WVU and Virginia Tech Announce Agreement To Play In Common Sport

West Virginia and Tech will not sign a contract, preferring instead just to make a strong commitment to work with each other to schedule as many of these non-conference games as possible.

“It only makes sense for these two great land grant institutions, with long and rich athletic histories, to be competing against each other in the athletics realm,” West Virginia Director of Athletics Oliver Luck said. “Many of our sports teams have long-standing rivalries with Virginia Tech, the oldest dating back to baseball in 1905. This border rivalry is good for the fans and coaches and it provides great competition for the student-athletes. I applaud the teamwork and cooperation of both schools to get the Black Diamond Challenge finalized. It's a win-win for both institutions and for college athletics in general.”

via WVU and Virginia Tech Announce Agreement To Play In Common Sport – WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News – Mountaineer Sports.

WV MetroNews – NAPA Auto Parts Gold & Blue Now: Thursday, Oct. 23

In this edition of the NAPA Auto Parts Gold and Blue Now, Oklahoma State play-by-play analyst Dave Hunziker, joins us to tale abut the perception of the Cowboys.

Also Jonathan Holton joins us as he talks about his year off and how it humbled him.

via WV MetroNews – NAPA Auto Parts Gold & Blue Now: Thursday, Oct. 23.

West Virginia’s 3-3-5 defensive scheme earning high praise

It was a strange sight Tuesday when West Virginia coordinators Shannon Dawson and Tony Gibson arrived at their weekly media availability and twice as many reporters swarmed toward Gibson, a first-year defensive coordinator, than Dawson, co-mastermind of one of the top offenses in college football.

No. 22 West Virginia’s retooled defense is on pace for its best scoring average (27.1 points allowed per game) since 2011, and Gibson has earned plenty of credit for the turnaround.

“We’re a pretty confident bunch defensively right now,” head coach Dana Holgorsen said. “Coach Gibson, again, I can’t express what he’s been able to do with the guys. It’s been fun to watch. It’s been awesome.”

via West Virginia’s 3-3-5 defensive scheme earning high praise – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Charleston Daily Mail | WVU FOOTBALL: Oklahoma State linebacker has plenty of motivation

As he was growing up central Texas, the young Ryan Simmons was a lot like the running backs and receivers that encounter the older Ryan Simmons today.

He never had a chance.

Oklahoma State’s middle linebacker is from an athletic family. His older sister, Meighan, was one of the best basketball players ever at the University of Tennessee. The 2014 SEC player of the year who was drafted by the New York Liberty is one of only five Volunteers to score 2,000 points in her career.

But basketball was never the choice. The ball was too round. The distaste for contact was too much to stomach.

It was always going to be football for Simmons, just like it was for his older brothers who played in college and his uncle and cousins who would do the same and go to the NFL.

via Charleston Daily Mail | WVU FOOTBALL: Oklahoma State linebacker has plenty of motivation.